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World Music CD Reviews Celtic & Irish

The Chieftains

By James Rodgers
Published March 13, 2007

The Essential Chieftains
RCA Victor/Legacy 75398


As part of its recent hits compilation series, RCA has released this two-disc set devoted to the Chieftains. “Essential” is a big claim when collecting a band that has released over 40 albums in 40 years, and has multiple hits collections already available. With 35 tracks spanning their entire career, they do an admirable job of collecting many key songs, but the wide scope that makes this collection unique is also its weakness. Disc one covers their early traditional work, while disc two showcases their very successful collaborations with other Celtic, folk, country, jazz and rock stars. Names like Van Morrison, Linda Ronstadt, Sting, Elvis Costello and Alison Krauss may bring in casual listeners, but all of the songs have been previously released. These Celtic legends and world music ambassadors deserve a full boxed set. This set is great for newcomers, but far from essential.